Solving water intrusion for North Myrtle Beach condo community

The Edgewater Condominiums, with 260 units near the Atlantic Ocean in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina were built over a period of five years and completed 10 years ago. The Edgewater COA Board of Directors voted to replace the stucco on all buildings. When Level 4 Remove and Reclad was called for, Jason Smith, AIA, Senior Architect of Construction Science and Engineering (CSE), a REI Engineers Company, knew exactly what to specify for the 10-building condo project.

After surveying the project, Smith specified approximately 250,000 SF of StoTherm® ci Lotusan®, a continuous insulation wall system. The high-performance, energy efficient wall cladding integrates components waterproof air barrier, insulated cladding and drainage, and a textured finish with self-cleaning properties that mimics the self-cleaning capabilities of the lotus leaf.

Smith assembled a strong team, including general contractor Prime South and applicator, Premier Exteriors. “It was a real team effort, including the Edgewater board, who was engaged and involved in the project from start to finish,” Smith says. “The continuous, open communication between all the team members has been critical to our project’s success.”

Before CSE was involved, the project originally had been specified with a new hard coat stucco. Al Best of Prime South, for one, was relieved that the Sto system was decided upon. “Stucco would have been messy, and it would have taken a lot longer—at least another six months,” Best says.

Best should know, the veteran contractor at one point was averaging 50 products a year since 1990.

His take on stucco matched Smith, who admits to having torn off tons of the product over the years. Hard coat stucco requires nailing lath to the exterior sheathing, creating more of an opportunity for moisture to get in through the waterproofing if not installed properly.

By using a system like Sto, which features a fluid-applied membrane and an adhered, drainable system, the continuous membrane serve as the first line of defense to prevent moisture intrusion issues from the beginning. The lack of fasteners also prohibits potential moisture intrusion issues into the substrate.

The Edgewater Condominiums removal and re-clad project has had its share of challenges. The condos have low-slope membrane and clay tile roofs and there was a lot of roof-to-wall work to be done. Because of local guidelines, Best and his team needed to leave the existing windows in their openings.

“If we replaced the windows, they needed to be high impact glass, which would have been a cost-prohibitive endeavor for the condo community,” Best says. “We found a solution to that challenge.”

In order to avoid total removal of the existing windows from their respective openings, the team used a multi-step sequencing system by tilting the windows in and out to flash the rough openings properly. The window units were carefully cut from the interior side, flashing installed and openings wrapped with a non-woven cloth reinforcement. After all of the exterior elements were properly installed, they came inside to do any necessary repairs to the existing window frame and finishes.

“There was a lot to be done in our community,” says Chris Rush, president of the Edgewater COA Board of Directors. “We were here during the entire renovation project, as were many of our neighbors, and the communication from the team was incredible.”

Taking up residence
Monthly meetings were held with board members and the construction team, and for much of the 30-month project, Best lived on-site. It was something Rush and the residents took notice of. “Al is the best general contractor I’ve ever worked with,” Rush says. “He and his crew were outstanding and the entire team was on top of things every step of the way. They even put notices up on buildings when work would be done. And they kept everything so clean and tidy, we didn’t even know when our own personal windows were worked on.”

Rush says the renovations had been discussed for a while before the project started. The board had been tasked to look at utility bills to find ways to lower them, including LED lighting which they had replaced.

With this system that was installed, they already noticed reductions in their utility bills. “Community-wide, this year our utility bills have been significantly lower, maybe as low as a 20% reduction,” Rush says. “They have not completed all of the buildings yet and we had a really hot summer, so we expect next year’s bills to be even lower. We like the trend we’re seeing so far.”

Another challenge during the 30-month project was three hurricanes: Florence, Michael and Dorian. Living on the coast, this always is a concern. Thankfully, none of the hurricanes were a direct hit to Myrtle Beach. But the team needed to shore up the in-progress construction, taking in anything that might blow away and making sure everything was covered.

“Prime South did an excellent job making sure everything stayed secure during the two hurricane seasons,” Rush says. “Even with high winds up to 75 miles per hour and scaffolding in place, we didn’t experience any damage or water intrusion.”

The condo residents are thrilled with the results. “The finish does a remarkable job keeping the building looking clean and new,” Rush says. “The buildings completed over a year ago look just as good as the building they are just finishing. We’re very pleased with the end product, as well as the support, communication and the work of the entire team.”

The team effort of Prime South, Construction Science and Engineering, Premier Exteriors, Capitol Materials Coastal, the Edgewater COA Board of Directors, and Sto Corp. was so successful it attracted the attention of a neighboring community.

Work on those five buildings will begin soon.

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Kevin Gribbon is a Construction Design Manager for Sto Corp. covering the states of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. He has more than 25 years of experience in the building materials industry, working in both manufacturing and distribution. Specifically, he has over 10 years of experience in product marketing in exterior claddings and air and moisture barriers.

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